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As our cities grow and change at an unprecedented speed and scale, we are facing more complex challenges – from poverty and environmental threats to inequality and migration.
Studies suggest that between 60 and 84% of the global population resides in urban centers. Cities also generate more than 80% of the global GDP and consume nearly two-thirds of the world’s energy. They also account for more than 70% of global greenhouse gas emissions. Often the challenges that cities face are interconnected and require an interdisciplinary approach, going beyond sector-specific or technical solutions.
Our two main initiatives in the region explore ways in which urban transformation can take place: City Experiment Fund (CEF) and Mayors for Economic Growth (M4EG). These two projects engage cities in systems thinking based processes of unpacking local complexities and designing portfolios of interventions that in time can help effectively address key urban challenges.
CITY EXPERIMENT FUND (CEF)
CEF, implemented in partnership with the Slovak Ministry of Finance, seeks to make sense of and address complex issues negatively impacting the future of cities in the region – including migration, climate change, and inequality – by working at the intersection of innovative approaches and technologies. Up to 10 partner cities are developing multiple, interlinked solutions in response to cross-cutting challenges shared throughout the region and beyond. CEF provides catalytic funding that de-risks investment in experimentation, and supports the cities with the tools and processes to envision their future.
MAYORS FOR ECONOMIC GROWTH (M4EG)
M4EG, implemented in close partnership with the European Union, is designed to deepen the conversation about economic development and explore interdependencies that impact the growth of cities and communities in the Eastern Partnership. “Urban make-over”, which is a cross-cutting theme for all cities taking part in this process, captures both economic aspects of local development, as well as social needs and challenges that stand in the way of creating vibrant communities. The M4EG network has more than 350 towns and cities participating from Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia, Moldova, and Ukraine. Under M4EG, between 30-40 cities are engaging ‘deep’ as demonstration sites, and may join one or several workstreams, including: Portfolio Journey, Urban Imaginaries, a new generation local economic development plans Urban Learning Centre, City Learning Circles, and the EU Respond and Renewal Programme for M4EG supporting crisis affected municipalities in Moldova and Ukraine. Several of the programmes include seed-funds to experiment solution pathways.
Selected cities and communities from the Eastern Partnership will develop portfolios of solutions that can become catalysts for urban make-over. 10 municipalities began their work in 250k EUR in seed-funds per city.
Urban Imaginaries is an innovation mentorship and grant programme, which employs human-centered design and foresight to create seed solutions for broader systems transformation. 18 municipalities began in 2022, with 60k EUR in seed-funds. For it, we are working with the Centre for Public Impact to reimagine city life (learn about their work in their latest report on rethinking government.
URBAN LEARNING CENTER
The Urban Learning Center (ULC) is an umbrella platform, bringing together M4EG’s programmes, to enable a learning ecosystem. A number of learning modules around city innovation will be introduced, starting from 2023.
Each urban challenge goes far beyond what it represents on the surface.
Whether we work on air pollution, access to economic opportunities or effective public transportation, we always find that these aspects of urban living have a variety of intertwined causes and spill over to other areas that impact the quality of life in a city. That is why we introduced a rigorous process of exploration to understand the problem in-depth, identify existing solutions, and design new ones that, when activated, can bring about unprecedented structural transformation and learning for local teams. [Read more about Portfolio Development]
1. Deep listening & sensemaking
3. Portfolio design
4. Human-centered design
5. Urban hackathons & innovation challenges
6. Impact assessment frameworks
In a rapidly evolving urban landscape, traditional methods of addressing interconnected urban challenges are becoming increasingly inadequate. As a result, urban development practitioners are exploring innovative
For Mayors involved in the initiative, the purpose is to provide a sense of expanded options in the face of complexity, rather than resorting to “magic
4 October 2023, BATUMI – More than 200 participants from Eastern Partnership cities convened in Batumi, Georgia, for a two-day urban forum organized by the Directorate-General for
Next week, Mayors for Economic Growth, a joint UNDP and EU initiative, will host the Urban Forum: Future-Fit Cities, a gathering of over 300 representatives from
CEF IN NUMBERS
in grants per city
M4EG IN NUMBERS
local authorities in 5 countries
representatives re-thinking local development
municipalities selected for various programmes
“We are called to be the architects of the future, not its victims.”
– Buckminster Fuller
Interested in advancing urban transformation? Drop us an email.
We support UNDP offices, governments, and partners in advancing strategic urban innovation to design and implement impactful interventions in cities to transform our society for the better.
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